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Posted in June 2011

Toronto final part: Time is now

Friday June 3: the last full day of our study trip and it stays interesting right up to the end I must say. Not only did I receive a very nice book from Chief Librarian Madeleine Lefebvre (because it is my birthday in June), but the morning was just filled with enthusiastic people talking about the new (to be finished in 2014) student learning centre, information literacy and mobile services.

I will not touch upon everything, just a few things. I should mention the proper order in which the vision of the new building was created. So there was a wish to build a profile for the library, and number one priority was: building new collaborative spaces. RULA (Ryerson University Library and Archives) as integral part of the learning and teaching environment. A lot of the elements in their vision have relation with our Library Learning Centre ambition keywords. For inspiration they referred to Pieter Brueghel, 1560, children’s games. Check it out at: www.ryerson.ca/ryersonbuilds.

For information literacy I must give the floor to Sonny Banerjee, working for quite some time at RULA, but now since one year being the contact for the School of Interior Design. Just a few of his quotes:

  • Embedding = Collaboration.
  • Take your chances to promote the library.
  • It is just a matter of letting them know what is out there …
  • Inspiration = library research.
  • Speak the language of the students.
  • If they will not come here, I have to go there!

My conclusion: do not say you are doing the information skills, go and understand and observe, see what the faculty does, and then make the library fit into that.

And then for the first time this week we got a presentation on mobile initiatives. It all comes down to Graham McCarthy, who after creating nice apps for the library (book a room; searching a library (catalogue & articles via Summum); computer availability; library news), now creates the same things for the whole campus. Great! We will be in touch!

Tenslotte voor de thuisblijvers nog wat algemene observaties:

De bibliotheken
Bijna overal waar wij zijn geweest, zijn de bibliotheken qua inrichting toe aan vernieuwing. In de fysieke omgeving valt op dat er weinig techniek wordt aangeboden (bijna geen smartboards of surfacetafels). Wel zijn er overal (beperkte) plekken ingericht als learning commons; soms dus zelfs in hetzelfde gebouw, maar los van de bibliotheek. Innovatie, zowel in de digitale als fysieke omgeving, is compleet gebaseerd op (veelal private) sponsoring en in sommige bibliotheken draagt elke projectkamer wel de naam van de gulle gever(s). We werden overal echt geweldig ontvangen; lunch in de faculty club, waar aan elke tafel (wij waren met 40 mensen) iemand van de bibliotheek aanschoof. Het viel me op dat er behoorlijk wat uitwisseling is tussen bibliotheken: het is heel gewoon om bij verschillende bibliotheken te hebben gewerkt. De samenwerking tussen de bibliotheken in Ontario, via de overkoepelend organisatie OCUL, vond ik ook indrukwekkend; daar kunnen wij in Nederland nog van leren. Er was tijdens ons bezoek in ieder geval veel focus op studenten en studentenbetrokkenheid. Ik heb drie dingen om mee te nemen naar Delft:

  • Embedded faculty in the library
  • Take the role you can get whether it is on mobile, academic skills, media …
  • Make sure you work on physical and digital components, so our research support also needs a physical component

Een vraag die we nog niet beantwoord hebben gezien: Stoelen op vier poten met wielen, het blijft een vreemd gezicht, waarom geen drie poten?

Toronto
En in Toronto bleven we op zoek naar wat nu echt Canadees is, of typisch Toronto. We moesten het niet in voedsel zoeken, zo begrepen we al snel, want deze stad kent enorm veel culturen, en dat vind je gewoon terug in het aanbod. Iedereen is gereserveerd vriendelijk, niet zo uitbundig als de amerikanen kunnen zijn. En: er hingen overal (nog) hygiënische zeeppompjes om je handen te desinfecteren. Natuurlijk zijn baseball en ijshockey de sporten; op 1 juni werd er zelfs nog een ijshockeywedstrijd gespeeld. Een tram heet streetcar; bij de metro betaal je voor een klein token (grootte van een cent); op kruispunten zijn er (ook) schuine oversteekplaatsen. Je komt op straat redelijk wat dakloze mensen tegen. Het fooisysteem is ook vergelijkbaar met de verenigde staten: 15% op bedrag zonder tax. Grappige namen van bedrijven zagen we ook her en der, zoals Two men and a truck, Frankie Flowers, Tip top tailors.

 

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Toronto part 4: Nerd herds!

Mills Memorial Library from McMaster University was our goal today. Jeff Trzeciak, library director, had invited two of his postdocs to tell us all about two interesting projects.

The first project was the Centre for Digital Scholarship, to be open mid-fall this year. This library wants to bring faculty into the library.

In the library research assistance for faculty projects will be given in a designated area (not open to all visitors), where the faculty also can use up space for their project work (for a limited period, say 6 months). The support can be a webdeveloper, or system administrator and these are in permanent positions with the library, and then can be put into the project. This results in the librarian as a partner, not a service. Nice quote: “know the language of access that is what a researcher needs a librarian for!”
John Maclachlan enthusiastically guided us through Lyons New Media Centre, a place I had on my wishlist. It confirmed my feeling that we should think how we as a library should support the whole creating process, not just the part of writing. Special nerd herds (students from the faculty of science) were 15 hours a week available for media assistance. A green screen, a gaming room, advanced computer facilities were brought together in an area renovated for 800k Canadian dollars (excluding IT investment). McMaster is not really engaged in OpenCourseware, so the library was not involved in weblectures.
Nice quote: An archive is only as good as the access given to it.

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Toronto part 3: YU inspire!

Inspiration can be found anywhere, anyplace, anytime. Before visiting the CN Towers on Tuesday evening we bumped upon this virtual, QR or Augmented Reality shopping. Just pick up the item, and a screen will show you how and where you can use it: user experience. In the afternoon of June 1st the director at Seneca College Library told us that they created a new functional team around user experience (UX) in her library.
We spent the morning of June 1st at York University library: before visiting the learning commons four librarians were so kind as to give us short challenging talks. The pictures in this blog of course refer to what we saw at the learning commons, so the library space, but there was much to learn about other activities too.
Presentations were given by the “Digital Initiatives Librarian” and the “E-Learning Librarian”: interesting functions! The first, Andrea Kosavic, told us a.o. about Synergies (www.synergiescanada.org), where OA material from several Canadian partners is hosted and made available. Kent Murnaghan, one of the persons responsible for Information Literacy@YUL, told us about the 4 strategic priority areas for IL: academic literacies; curriculum integration; e-learning;  andstudent engagement. In the afternoon at Seneca we also talked about IL, and there the brand “SPARK” was used for the IL or AL services: short practical academic research knowledge.
But most interesting for us was the YU approach (presented by Mark Robertson) for the Learning commons: A model of collaboration. YU Library sees their Learning commons as both a learning environment (so the space) and a collaborative approach to academic support. Integration is key, so research, writing and learning skills all together, because when students come with their assignment papers, their ask for help refers to all these areas. The final presentation further elaborated on the virtual learning commons, an online toolkit for faculty support. I would like to quote from the statement of principles, created in April, about the Learning Commons Collaboration: “we approach research, writing and learning as deeply interconnected processes that engage the intellect, unique motivations, emotions, skills and strengths of each individual.”
And as always I like the positive twists, so e.g. at Seneca: instead of plagiarism talk about academic honesty. And the house rules at YU: the red forbidden part gets an underlining “why” explanation.

 

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Toronto part 2: It’s library day

On May 31st we visited in the morning the University of Waterloo. We were warmly welcomed at the Dana Porter Library, or as students call it: DP. I made quite some notes at the presentation of Nancy Collins, the outreach and communications manager. They organized a few simple, though effective, campaigns to enhance student commitment and understanding, e.g. It’s library day, a photo and video contest (why do your love the library?), and the very popular library buttons. Quote from Doris Lessing I found at the glass wall: “Think wrongly if you please; but in all cases think for yourself”. You can find the results of these campaigns back throughout the library spaces, where the photos or installations the students created are used.
In the afternoon we visited Conestoga College Library in Doon, one of the university of applied sciences in Ontario. A real struggle (20 staff, 500 study places, for some 9000 students) for space out there. There are four liaison librarians, working on the specific information literacy programs for the colleges. The special learning commons area was separated from the library. Striking for me was the fact that the library was renamed library again, whereas it used to be the learning resource centre. It seems to be a step back.
At the learning commons a writing centre was located; students can book sessions to guide them through their paper writing, for math support and there was a specific area for disabled students, where students not only find dedicated software, but also customized hardware spots.

 

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© 2011 TU Delft